Umbilical Hernia Repair


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Don’t look so worried, Joy. The North Florida Equine
veterinarians will take good care of you!

Joy is a 5 month-old foal with an umbilical hernia.  An umbilical hernia occurs when the opening that once contained the umbilical cord in a developing foal fails to close normally.  This leaves a defect in the body wall which allows abdominal contents (like fat or intestine) to slip through the opening.  It’s a kind of like having an “outie” belly button.  This is Joy’s umbilical hernia:

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An estimated 0.5-2% of all foals have umbilical hernias and most are like Joy’s: small, non-painful, and their contents can be easily pushed back up into the abdomen.

Small hernias (less than 3cm) will often close on their own as a foal increases in size.  If the hernia hasn’t closed by 5 to 6 months of age, surgery is recommended.  Surgery is also recommend with larger defects, as there is an increased risk of intestine becoming entrapped in the defect.  This can cause a life threatening colic that requires emergency surgery to repair.

Joy’s owners elected to have her hernia repaired on their farm.  A North Florida Equine veterinarian put Joy under general anesthesia removed the extra tissue and sutured the hernia defect closed.

Joy’s abdomen after surgery:

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Joy recovered uneventfully from her surgery and was walked across the barn aisle to her stall where she rested for most of the following 4 weeks.

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Joy and veterinary technician Sue Tobin warming up in the sun after surgery. 

A post-op recheck at 4 weeks found the surgery site to have healed uneventfully and Joy was given the go ahead to return to her regular foal activities!